News Archive

Private View held by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th July 2008


Vilhelm Hammershoi: The Poetry Of Silence is the first retrospective of the celebrated late 19th century Danish artist, and features over 70 paintings spanning his entire career. Hammershoi's most compelling works are his quiet, haunting interiors, their emptiness disturbed only occasionally by the presence of a solitary, graceful figure, often the artist's wife. Painted within a small tonal range of implied greys, these sparsely furnished rooms exude an almost hypnotic quietude and sense of melancholic introspection. Submitting these spaces to a decisive geometric stringency, Hammershoi dispenses with anecdotal detail, which transforms the interiors into hermetically sealed places of disturbing emptiness. With refined discretion, he uses the apartment as a pictorial laboratory to make the viewer sense the emotional abyss behind the facade. In addition to the interiors, the exhibition also includes Hammershoi's arresting portraits, landscapes, and evocative city views, notably the deserted streets of Copenhagen and London on misty winter mornings, such as 'Christiansborg Palace' and 'From the British Museum. Winter'. The magical quietness of Hammershoi's work can be seen in the context of international Symbolist movements of the turn of the last century but the containment and originality of his art makes it unique. The Royal Academy of Arts until 7th September.

The Art Of Doctor Who: Script To Screen reveals for the first time how Doctor Who stories are developed from the initial script to the final television programme, including how the monsters and special effects are created. Visitors can use interactive touch screens, see exhibits on the craft behind monster making, and learn what exactly goes on behind the scenes. These displays feature the expertise behind many production areas, from special effects and CGI, to make up and costume. As well as intriguing insights into how the programme is made, the exhibition features a Tardis, and many of the actual props, costumes and monsters from the BBC series, including new creatures, such as the Sontarin and the Hath, alongside the Doctor's traditional enemies, the Cybermen and the Daleks.

The temporary exhibition joins the six themed galleries exploring space and space travel, each featuring a variety of interactive hands on exhibits and audiovisual experiences, including the Solar System gallery, which explores our nearest planetary neighbours, and includes a space flight simulator, and the Milky Way gallery, which shows the formation and life cycle of stars, plus the Space Dome planetarium, which uses the latest high resolution digital projection technology to create a journey through the stars. Spaceport, Victoria Place, Seacombe, Wallasey, Wirral, The Art Of Dr Who until 11th January.

The Ramayana: Love And Valour In India's Great Epic is the first time that over 120 paintings from the lavishly illustrated 17th century manuscripts in the volumes of Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar have been on public display. The Ramayana is one of the world's greatest and most enduring stories, and is considered to be fundamental to the art and culture of India and South East Asia. It is an ancient Sanskrit epic which follows Prince Rama's quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita from the clutches of a demon king with the help of an army of monkeys. Comprising 24,000 verses in seven cantos, the epic contains the teachings of the very ancient Hindu sages. Illustrated on the grandest scale, with over 400 paintings, the vivid, brightly coloured scenes are packed with narrative detail and dramatic imagery, with no episode of the great epic overlooked. The exhibition also explores how the story has constantly been retold in poetic and dramatic versions by some of India's greatest writers, and in narrative sculptures on temple walls. It is one of the staples of later dramatic traditions, employed in dance dramas, village theatre, shadow puppet theatre and in annual Ram-lila plays. As well as paintings, the exhibition features textiles and sculptures, shadow puppets and dance costumes, together with archive recordings of readings and chantings of the Sanskrit and other versions of the Ramayana, the singing of devotional hymns to Rama, and dramatic and dance music from India and South East Asia. British Library Gallery until 14th September.


Radical Light: Italy's Divisionist Painters 1891 - 1910 examines the work of a loosely knit group of avant-garde artists in northern Italy, in the late 19th century, who came to be known as Divisionists. They mounted a radical artistic response to conditions of economic crisis, political uncertainty and widespread social unrest in post unification Italy. Through 'the investigation of colour in light' the Divisionists sought to challenge the paradoxes of the modern world. Inspired by French developments with pointillism, and fuelled by a desire to increase the luminosity and brilliance of their paintings, these artists developed new techniques applying paint in a variety of dots and strokes. Influenced by the study of optical science, they believed unmixed threads of 'divided' colour would fuse for the viewer at a distance and bring maximum luminosity to their paintings. This technical innovation accounts for the singular intensity of their paintings. Many of the key Divisionists were also politically motivated, and Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza, Angelo Morbelli and Emilio Longoni, among others, adopted Socialist ideas and strove for 'an art not for art's sake but for humanity's sake'. From Longoni's 'The Orator of the Strike' to Umberto Boccioni's 'The City Rises' the exhibition explores the evolution of Divisionism from its early beginnings to the formation of Italian Futurism, which later emerged from this movement. As workers migrated from the fields to the cities, many Divisionists escaped to the countryside producing paintings such as Segantini's 'Spring in the Alps' and 'The Punishment of Lust', Pellizza's 'The Living Torrent', Morbelli's 'For Eighty Cents!', and Vittore Grubicy's eight canvas polyptych 'Winter in the Mountains'. National Gallery until 7th September.

The Fabric Of Myth explores the symbolic function of textiles in classical myth and their thematic influence on both historic and contemporary art. By tracing these narrative beginnings, the exhibition offers insights into the mysterious power of fabric, the celebrity of its makers, and the supernatural component of its production. For centuries weaving was a vital force that homogenised societies, thereby reflecting important principles and beliefs, and the exhibition features embroidery, tapestries, illustrated manuscripts and classical artefacts. Historically, the exhibition explores the theme of classical myths as seen through Greek mythological figures such as the Three Fates, Arachne, Ariadne, Circe and Penelope, in addition to Lord Alfred Tennyson's Lady of Shalott locked in her tower weaving, to the embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots in captivity. It also explores the work of artists who use fabric as a medium to communicate personal and cultural myths, including Delaine Le Bas, William Holman Hunt, Alice Kettle, Elaine Reichek, Bispo Do Rosario, Tilleke Schwarz, Judith Scott, Leonid Tishkov, Michele Walker, Shane Waltener and Annie Whiles. Highlights include Joseph Beuys's 'Felt Suit', which symbolically acts as the embodiment of the artist's personal myth; Louise Bourgeois's 'Spindle', expressing ideas relating to personal restoration; Henry Moore's 'Three Fates', which renders them as sympathetic and reluctant arbiters of life and death; and Ray Materson's miniature embroideries, created while in jail and made by unraveling then reconfiguring the socks of fellow inmates. Compton Verney House until 7th September.

The Last Debutants transports visitors back to the sumptuous, sophisticated and glamorous debutante season of 1958, in an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the last presentations of debutantes to the Queen. For a select group of aristocratic and upper class families 'coming out' had long been a rite of passage, marking the entry of their teenage daughters into fashionable society and the marriage market. The London season began with the girls', or debutantes', formal presentation at court, when, dressed in all their finery, they would file into Buckingham Palace and curtsey to the Queen. This exhibition provides a glimpse into this world, the detailed preparations required for 'coming out', and events that constituted The Season. It reveals the bewildering rules of etiquette, and dizzying schedule of presentations, cocktail parties and dances, with a backdrop of original items lent by former debutantes, complemented by atmospheric audiovisual material. The isplay features accessories and examples of couture dresses by Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Jacques Heim and Worth worn by the debutantes for evening engagements and their official court presentations at Buckingham Palace. There is even a former debutante from the famous Vacani School of Dancing on hand to teach the art of the perfect curtsey. The exhibition captures the spirit of a world in transition, in which the status of the upper classes became a subject of fierce debate, and sets the scene for change that would see social unrest, political activism and teenage culture. Kensington Palace until 16th October.

The Lure Of The East: British Orientalist Painting explores the range of British artists' responses to the peoples, cities, cultures and landscapes of the Near and Middle East, from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. The exhibition brings together over 120 paintings, prints and drawings, of bazaars, public baths, domestic interiors, harem scenes and religious sites. It reveals the wealth of Orientalist painting that followed the arrival of steam travel in the 19th century, when artists were drawn to visit and paint hitherto unreachable places, such as Cairo, Jerusalem and Istanbul, often travelling via Spain and Morocco, or through Greece and the Balkans. The exhibition examines how British painters sought to convince their audiences of the authenticity of their images, often by using intensely detailed compositions, and how deriving drama and romance from the Orient was central to their work. It also looks at the long tradition of British sitters being portrayed in different varieties of Oriental dress. Highlights include Gavin Hamilton's 'James Dawkins and Robert Wood Discovering the Ruins of Palmyra', William Allan's 'Slave Market, Constantinople', John Frederick Lewis's 'The Seraff - A Doubtful Coin', David Roberts's panoramic view of the ancient city of Baalbec in Lebanon, Richard Dadd's 'Flight out of Egypt', John Frederick Lewis's 'Hhareem Life, Constantinople', and portraits of Lord Byron by Thomas Phillips, and Lawrence of Arabia by Augustus John. Tate Britain until 31st August.

Foto: Modernity In Central Europe 1918-1945 surveys modernist photography in Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Austria, during a time of tremendous social and political upheaval, presenting some of the most challenging, yet beautiful, experimental photography of the 20th century. The exhibition is unprecedented in scope, comprising around 150 photographs, books and illustrated magazines, featuring the work of more than 100 photographers. Images by internationally recognised masters such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Hannah Hoch, Andre Kertesz, and El Lissitzky, are on display alongside those of historically important contemporaries such as Karel Teige, Edith Tudor Hart, Frantisek Drtikol, Martin Munkacsi and Trude Fleischmann. The works are radical politically as well as aesthetically, and the exhibition contains many of the ideas and iconic images that were to establish photography's status as the avant-garde medium of the 20th century. The exhibition examines the significance of photomontage, experimental camera work and dark room techniques, and the contribution of the modernist approach to photographing the urban and rural landscape in constructing myths of national identity. Dean Gallery, Edinburgh, until 31st August.

Rituals : Jason Dodge / Tereza Buskova features works by two artist who work in different media, but share the use of performance, fetishism and narration in their work, to engage audiences and provoke a reassessment of common symbols. Jason Dodge uses found objects, changing their context to reveal unexpected histories that reference past human actions and distant locations. His works on show include ''Ringing through Chimneys', a bell attached to the brush of chimney sweep Jorg Hauseler during the spring chimney cleaning in a neighbourhood in Berlin; and 'Darkness falls on Beroldingerstrasse 7, 79224 Umkirch', a collection of light sources, ranging from light bulbs to matches, which once illuminated a house on the edge of the Black Forest. Tereza Buskova's films explore a personal mythology with symbolic references to liberation, sexuality and East European Folklore, delving into a rich culture of theatre, film, animation, literature and craft. To make her work Buskova begins with improvised tableaux vivant and ritualistic narrative free performance, designing elaborate costumes, props, models and makeup. Here she premieres 'Forgotten Marriage', which was shot in Prague, with performer Zoe Simon and composer Bela Emerson, and a series of related photographic screen prints. Gallery One One One, 111 Great Titchfield Street, London W1, until 24th August.


Snapshots In Time: 150 Years Of Excellence celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - the 3rd theatre on the site. A series of showcases and wall displays, located throughout the building, recall some of the great artists associated with the theatre, though costumes, paintings, caricatures and photographs. These include singers Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba, Adelina Patti, Rosa Ponselle and Eva Turner, and dancers Margot Fonteyn, Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolph Nureyev. However, the main focus of the exhibition is the theatre itself, reflecting the changes in the building, both front of house and back stage, during its life. It includes items of architectural salvage, such as pillars removed from the grand tier during the major redevelopment in 1997, together with architectural models of the redevelopment proposals, photographs of the Victorian stage machinery removed at that time, and pictures of members of the Royal College of Needlework embroidering the royal crest on the new red and gold stage curtains, together with the actual royal insignia from previous drapes. The exhibition also includes items not normally on public view, such as the chairs made for the Great Exhibition in 1851, donated by Queen Victoria for use in the Royal box. In addition, there is a documentary film charting the theatre's history, directed by Lynne Wake. Royal Opera House, Covent Garden until 4th August.

Pont: Observing The British At Home And Abroad celebrates the work of the very British cartoonist Graham Laidler, who used the pseudonym Pont. Though he died at the early age of 32, Pont left a rich legacy of witty observations on 1930s Britain. He was most famous for drawing 'The British Character', a series of over 100 cartoons which appeared in Punch, in which he wryly observed the idiosyncrasies of the British. Some of Pont's cartoons show how much Britain has changed, while others reveal 'tendencies' of the national character that are as true now as when Pont drew them 70 years ago: 'A Weakness for Oak Beams', 'Love of Keeping Calm', 'Tendency to leave the Washing Up till later' and 'The Attitude to Fresh Air' are just a few such gems. Many of his drawings were packed with tiny jokes in every corner, and readers pored over them at length. One group even formed a Pont Club, which met weekly to discuss his cartoons. As well as a master of the half and full page cartoon, his smaller drawings are triumphs in miniature, revealing comic glimpses of daily life that are still recognisable today. The exhibition includes some of Pont's most famous drawings, as well as sketchbooks, journals and other material never previously exhibited. The Cartoon Museum, London WC1, until 27th July.

London Festival Of Architecture is a celebration and exploration of the city's buildings, streets and spaces. It is the biggest event of its kind in the world, with over 600 events taking place, encompassing exhibitions, lectures, public space installations, guided walks, bicycle rides, boat tours, parties, design workshops and debates. The theme of the festival is Fresh! - seeking to inspire visitors to take a fresh look at London, to indulge in fresh thinking, to enjoy the fresh talent on show, and the fresh air of the walks and rides. The activities over the month of the festival will move across five key Hubs: Kensington, Chelsea and Knightsbridge; Canary Wharf, Stratford and Greenwich Peninsular; King's Cross, Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia and Covent Garden; Southwark and South Bank; and Clerkenwell and the City of London, with large scale public events taking place in a different Hub each weekend. These include cycle tours of subterranean London, lectures on how commerce and food have shaped the city, the area around Somerset House being turned into a huge living room, talks by some of the country's top architects, a temporary lido created in Southwark, and the opportunity to look around buildings not usually open to the public. Across London, 20th June to 20th July.